Creating a This I Believe Essay
Our next project launches our work in internet research
and persuasive writing.
We will be writing This I Believe Essays and submitting the
best from our classes to National Public Radio.
This project will take approximately three weeks and
involves writing an essay, and then creating a podcast.
Who Are You? Finding Out What is
What is an identity? What does it mean to have a strong
Look up the definition of identity. Based on this definition,
write your own. How would you describe your own
Could we say that forming an identity is difficult? How
could this be true?
Life’s Important Moments
People and events shape your identity.
“This I Believe” project is not an autobiography- it is a
personal narrative, a story that focuses on a small piece of
your life. It is about values we hold dear, the moments
that teach us who we are. It is not a factual retelling or a
What is a value?
A value is a characteristic that is important to leading a
What are some examples of values? Let’s list some of
On the next page there is a list of values. You will be
divided into teams. You have the rest of the period to
define as many of those values in your column as you can
by the end of the period. You may use your iPod for this
project to define each word.
Day 2 Choosing a Value
Objective: Today I will define two value words using
definitions and examples from my notes and create a
Wordle graphic to illustrate their meaning and importance
to my identity.
Identifying Core Values
Today we are going to choose one particular value. Look at
the list again and find the value that represents you at this
point in your life. There are many to choose from, but if
you had just two words to describe yourself what would
they be and why?
Write a response in your journal.
Take out your homework from last night. Be prepared to
define each of the words.
Write your own definition of each of the words as we
Choose two values that represent what you truly believe
in. There are many, so choose only the two most
Go to my webpage
Clickon the Writer’s Notebook page, at the bottom, click
the dictionary.com link
Defining your values
For each value that you select, in your journal write a
definition of your value in your own words and at least
three synonyms for the word. (you can use the thesaurus
on the dictionary site to help you.)
Once you have both of them written in your journal, go to
www.wordle.net to create a word collage.
Once you have created your collage, check with Mrs. Ilko
and then you will be able to print.
Day 3 What do you Believe?
Here is a link to a podcast by Tony Hawk Read the article
and listen to his essay. What do you notice?
Looking at the essay
Click on the Write button above the Tony Hawk Essay.
Scroll down to Requirements.
Read what is required of each essay and be ready to
discuss. Together we will write bullet points in our
Create a list of possible topics for your own This I Believe
Essay. Write them in your notebook.
This I Believe Sample Essays
Use your scanner and go to this section of the This I Believe website.
Essays as Mentor Text
Together we will find a few sample essays. Your job is to
listen and read at least 3 essays on a topic that interests
you to use as your own personal mentor text.
Write the title of the essay/podcast and the author and
Write a gist sentence about the essay.
Copy at least two sentences that you find interesting.
Some Key Advice
As you begin your essay consider the following:
It’s all about you.
Keep it personal.
Timing is everything.
Say what you do believe!
Copy the first sentence from your mentor essay.
Rewrite that sentence two different ways to begin your
Create hooks that will interest the reader/listener.
Consider a quote, startling statement or a carefully crafted
This is the section of the essay where you tell your story.
What is the key event that you want to discuss?
What lesson or value did you learn?
How did it make you feel about it then?
How have you used this lesson since when you make
How do you feel about it now?
Depending on the mood of your essay and the choices you
make as an author, there are several ways you can
conclude your essay.
Summaries are for book jackets only. Try not to summarize
what you said.
Say bye-bye and this is why: It is easy to end your
paragraph with “This is why… but much more effective
option is to restate your opinion or main idea in a different
way. Challenge your reader to think differently!
Read your essay to at least 3 other students in our class.
Together you should annotate on the essay with both
positive feedback and suggestions for revision.
Remember this essay will become a podcast, and you will
be using this time to read your essay aloud. This is a time
to check for punctuation, where should you pause for
effect? Voice raised? Volume differentiation..
Once you have revised 3 times, turn in your essay to the
teacher for final review.
MAPS: Creating a Podcast
Listen again to the Tony Hawk podcast with these questions in mind:
How is the piece introduced? What details are given in the overview?
Does the reporter/narrator start talking immediately? Is there a
musical segue? Background sounds?
Who is invited to talk?
How does the narrator introduce new ideas or transition to
Adapted From Troy Hicks pg. 88 Crafting Digital Writing
Garage Band: Our Choice to
We will spend today selecting appropriate background
music for your podcast.
We will be using Garageband for our project. Here are links
to a variety of tutorials on how to use Garage band. I will
post them in Edmodo for easy access.
Creating Our Podcast
We will be spending 3 days creating our podcast. You will need
to find a quiet place to produce your podcast. Don’t forget to
bring your earbuds from home .
We will be spending some time today reading our This I believe
statements to create our introduction that will be added to the
beginning of every students work. Be ready to come to my desk
top to record.
Make sure you use our Podcasting Basics sheet and Prosody
scoring guide as you create your podcast. Have fun!
I will also be opening my classroom before class, after school
and during second lunch to provide quiet space to record.
Podcast Publishing News
Once you have revised, edited and uploaded your podcast
to our class site you will then submit your essay and
We will be inviting our parents to comment on line and
come into our class to showcase our first project.
Your final podcast will also be posted on your individual
The Digital Writing Workshop by Troy Hicks pg. 65-72 with a focus on
Dawn Reeds Curriculum and the MAPS for podcasting
Crafting Digital Writing by Troy Hicks Chapter 5 Crafting Audio Texts
This I Believe Middle School Curriculum. Copyright 2008
Podcasting Basics Recording Principals by Margit Boyenson
Prosody Rubric created by Janet Ilko
This I Believe Podcast Rubric adapted from Dawn Reed and Troy Hicks
The Digital Writing Workshop pages 70-71